The term Andon is originated from the Japanese word meaning traditional paper lantern. It is one of the visual management techniques used in lean. Using these tools all the bottlenecks can be eliminated and run the production operations smoothly.
Though Andon is a part of lean approach it is one of the principle elements of Jidoka derived from Toyota Production System (TPS). Empowering people is the primary aspect of Jidoka which focusses on operator’s attention to take appropriate actions whenever they come across a problem in the production line. By this the operator is empowered to pull an andon card in the production line when they observe any abnormalities.
Andon resembles the three coloured lighted signals similar to traffic lights on each of the production/assembly line. When the operator/employee detects any problem in the production/assembly line or unable to match the speed of the operating line, he can stop the operation by pulling a andon card which triggers an alarm and highlights the relevant coloured electric light signal.
If the problem highlighted is not fixed with in a stipulated time period then the total production line will be stopped. If the problem is rectified the green light is illuminated signalling to continue the production process.
The Green, Yellow & Red colours are mainly used in most of the manufacturing industries. But some organisations develop their own colour signals with specific meanings.
Types of Andon
Manual: The activation of andon is done manually by the operator in the production line either by pulling a cord or pressing the button.
Automatic: The light signals are automatically activated on the production line/conveyor when the problem is not fixed.
Benefits of Andon
Production Improvement: Highlights the problem in real time status as they occur during a manufacturing process.
Improved transparency: To take action immediately without compromising on quality, downtime & safety.
Empowering the operators: Empowering the operators by improving the accountability and responsibility of producing good quality products and take action whenever they encounter the problem.
Downtime reduction: By identifying and quickly taking actions to resolve any problems in the manufacturing process, downtime is drastically reduced.
Effective communication: By real-time updating of activities in the shop floor increase effective communication.